Brussels tourist attractions include Grand Place, the Atomium, Manneken Pis, Brussels’ chocolate shops, and Rue Neuve shopping street.
Grand Place, the central square of Brussels, is the city’s most famous attraction, which, for example Victor Hugo, who lived within the square in 1851, called the most beautiful in the world.
The 68 m x 110 m (74 yd x 120 yd) square is surrounded by several of the most important buildings in Brussels, including the 15th century Brussels City Hall…
….on top of which you can see a three-meter (9.8 ft) tall statue of Archangel Michael, slaying a demon.
To balance out the city hall, which represents democracy, Duke of Brabant added the Maison du Roi (in English “King’s House“) to the square in 1536, opposite the city hall.
102-meter (334 ft) tall Atomium (www.atomium.be) monument, meanwhile, designed by André Waterkeyn, was built for the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition.
The monument consists of a total of nine interconnected spheres, portraying iron crystal’s atomic structure, only enlarged 165 billion times.
Connecting the spheres, there are corridors with built-in escalators, allowing you to move between the art exhibitions (and other attractions) within the spheres.
Within the topmost sphere, there is an observation platform, from where you’ll have spectacular views over Brussels.
Brussels tourist attractions also include Manneken Pis, the most famous landmark and symbol of Brussels, similarly to, for example, how the little mermaid statue symbolizes Copenhagen.
Revealed to the public in 1619, the small (61 cm (2 ft) tall) bronze statue, a design by Jerome Duquesnoy, portrays a naked little boy peeing into the fountain’s pond.
There are many stories related to the statue. The version most often told to tourists is:
A wealthy merchant was visiting Brussels with his family, and during this visit, his deeply loved young son went missing. The merchant quickly gathered a search party, which looked through all of the city’s corners, eventually finding the boy, urinating in a small garden. Delighted of the reunion, the wealthy merchant wanted to his gratitude to the locals, who had aided in the search, building the fountain and its statue to the current location.
Brussels’ chocolate shops are one of the top highlights in this city known for its gastronomic culture, and there is a wide variety of luxurious chocolateries to see and chocolates to taste.
The most popular chocolateries in Brussels include:
- Pierre Marcolini, Place du Grand Sablon 39,
- Wittamer, Place du Grand Sablon 6-12,
- Godiva, Grand Place 22, and
- Dandoy, Rue au Beurre 31.
In addition to the Brussels chocolates, another local culinary pleasure is the “speculoos” which are sweet, spiced shortcrust biscuits.
The Belgian treats are a great souvenir from Brussels, with other popular items being…
- lace made in Brussels,
- Belgian glassware, and
- Tintin memorabilia.
Shopping street Rue Neuve is not the city’s trendiest (while Boulevard de Waterloo and Rue Antoine Dansaert are), but it is the most practical and the most popular, offering, for example, locations for all the major Belgian department stores.
The street is…
- the city’s longest street,
- the most expensive street in terms of rents, and
- the most important pedestrian street in Brussels, beginning from Place de la Monnaie (in the south), continuing up to the Place Charles Rogier (in the north).
Of the individual highlights in the street, worth visiting are especially the largest shopping center in Brussels, City2 (www.city2.be), and shopping center Galeria INNO (www.inno.be), mostly offering stores from popular brands.